Being an ally to Black women is about embodying the politics that lift up and support Black women.
Be prepared to be uncomfortable because these conversations require self-reflection, unlearning and real change. Saying that you protect black women isn’t enough. Work needs to be done in the same essence.
Black women face the double edged sword of racism and misogyny. Statistics will give you a mere idea of the impact of these discriminations.
The racial disparities between Black women in comparison to our white counterparts are significant.
Black women are at a risk of sexual violence and domestic abuse. We already know how strenuous the judicial system is on SV and DV cases so imagine being Black on top. They are blamed when their marriage fails and shamed. We are hypersexualised and objectified from a young age, used as a form of tokenism to tick off diversity boxes. The way we act and present ourselves is always policed in attempts to mould us into “wifey material”. BW face reproductive coercion, where they’re are denied bodily autonomy and someone else controls their reproductive choices. There isn’t room for us to fail because if we do, the shame is much more severe as we’re held to higher standards.
There’s a lack of representation for Black women in the Film/TV industry, they are being replaced with mixed-race women to fit their palatable version of Blackness. When there are BW, it’s commonly framed around Black trauma which brings a plethora of views.
Colourism has lead to the erasure of dark-skinned Black women because of the preferences of mixed-race/light-skinned BW. Leigh Anne Pinnock, a mixed-race women presented a documentary on colourism which doesn’t affect her. Rochelle Hume – a mixed-race women, presented a documentary about the maternal mortality rates in the UK that predominantly affects Black women. If they were both allies to Black women, they would have sat this out or used their platforms to amplify Black women’s voices not be their voices.
Black women are four times likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth. Black women are being neglected, going unheard, unseen and misunderstood by the NHS that’s supposed to care for them. And no, they don’t have underlying health conditions because they are Black. It’s the healthcare system that has failed them due to the colour of their skin and false presumptions that they’re strong enough to bare pain and struggle.
Holding a safe space where Black women can share their experiences will always be important. There’s too many times where I’ve been in hostile spaces and having to argue for Black women’s humanity to be recognised by the same people who supposedly ‘protect Black women’. It’s so draining to the point where I’ve cried and had low self-esteem.
What saddens me is that when Black men face injustices due to systemic racism, it’s Black women who are ready to be on the frontline and be vocal no matter the cost. But when it comes to Black women’s issues, the energy isn’t reciprocal and it becomes a debate.
Whenever BW are holding BM accountable for the harms inflicted on us or not doing enough, I always hear the sentiments of ‘you’re being divisive’, ‘white supremacy is killing us all’ on Clubhouse. That just shows me you don’t care about BW issues because you’re choosing to ignore them and silence BW. For the Black men doing the work, we see you and appreciate you always.